The difference one priest can make:
"Over the past eight years, by God’s grace, Father Angel’s efforts have completely reversed the fortunes of the struggling parish community. In one church, Mass attendance exploded from 25 people to 200. Another saw its numbers grow from 40 to 250. In all the churches, weekend Masses became standing room only affairs, with people coming to church even when they knew that might mean standing outside in the hot Georgia sun."
This Colombian native in a missionary diocese in Georgia had a simple formula for turning his parish and missions around. First, he enabled parishioners' sense of ownership and pride in their churches by initiating a top-to-bottom cleaning. Then he got people to stop treating the sacraments like a one-time purchase by offering to baptize any child, no questions asked, if the parents attended Mass every week for three months prior and then required parents of religious education children to come to "Ask Father" sessions in the church while the children were win class. He uses the time to catechize parents.
I'm sure there are other steps he's taken that have contributed to this success, but these are quite remarkable because they strike at the heart of the problem: a lack of a sense of belonging and a lack of doing what a Catholic does.
Photo: Courtesy photo via OSV